In the introduction to her book of decoration, Flora Soames writes: “My definition of a One day Box is a place, real or imaginary, where we store fragments of our past that spark a feeling of connection – memories of sights, smells and sound we love, and to which one day we hope to return”. So the venue for the signing party, the Gatehouse of the British Embassy, was perfectly appropriate. Her grandfather, Sir Christopher Soames, was sent as ambassador to Paris in 1968 with his wife Mary Churchill and their five children. Her father Jeremy, who was present last Thursday, was partly raised there. Her aunt, Emma Soames, a brilliant magazine editor, was then the toast of Paris with her pink hot pants… She symbolized the British eccentricity of the time when the Biba fashion store brought everyone to London and British groups were the only music we listened to. And the present occupants of the Gatehouse, Theo and Flora Rycroft, are her dashing close friends. He is the minister and Deputy Head of Mission since July 2021.
It was a posh occasion with a few American and British decorators who were in Paris for the design week but mostly a friends’ gathering around the two Floras. Our hostess Flora Astor Rycroft, has been redecorating the Gatehouse and is currently helping the head gardener of the Embassy to plant the spring garden. Flora Soames runs her wallpaper and fabric company from Dorset, where she lives with husband Alexander Macdonald-Buchanan, “Blondie“, a ceramist who trained in Japan and New Zealand. The decors she creates are typical of what we French people adore. A mix of aristocratic chic and bohemian flowery English countryside atmosphere. She has restored a brick and flint barn to use as a showroom near the Pheasantry where she lives, and does not hesitate to mix stripes and flowers on the same couch. Or to modernize an ottoman with contemporary tartan fabric and use horsehair on a fender.
The party was a delightful mix of past elegance and youthful entrepreneurship. Pol Roger champagne flowed and the view over the Residence across the courtyard made us feel like we were the mischievous youngsters having a good time away from protocol. Have a look at this book which will give you great ideas for a relaxed chic decor.
The One Day Box, by Flora Soames, Rizzoli New York 47£.
Share this Post